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Mon, Oct. 2nd, 2006, 10:45 pm
Not a good day

My stomach's been in knots since mid-afternoon. I think I may have shot myself in the foot. Not literally.

The company that got me my last job (that was great, BTW), wanted to send me 50 miles north on an interview for 1 of 3 positions. 2 are contract, which I'm still trying to avoid. In any case, although usability is my thing, they're looking for HCI (human-computer interaction) specialists. (Those programs are degreed now, but didn't even exist a few years back.) It's a specialized discipline involving psychology, testing metrics, and statistical analysis. The agency kept saying this company was "picky," so I said that if this is what they're really looking for, I might not be the best choice for it. Haven't heard from them since.

Responded to a Dice post for a business analyst. Except despite the title, it's not really a BA. It's a tech writer assisting a BA, who should have some knowledge or understanding of BA functions. This is mainly so you can write and maintain the BA's documentation. Plus this "BA" does training - and true BAs do NOT train. And it's yet another contract. I told him that although I had applied for this, I had hoped there was more to it than there turned out to be. Haven't heard from him again either.

No wonder my stomach's in knots.

I know it sounds like I'm being a little picky when I'm not in a situation where I can truly afford to be. However, I've got my eye on the next interview after that. If I'm contracting, you can bet I'll still be looking for a permanent job. And if they say in an interview "Tell me about your most recent experience," I don't want to be describing a giant step backward in my career. That's hard to recover from. HR people and managers are much more short-sighted, narrowly-focused, and unimaginative than they ever were before.

Mon, Oct. 2nd, 2006, 12:10 pm
Staying busy

Sent out 4 resumes, drafted a generic cover letter and saved it in Notepad. Cleaned out both hammie cages, so they have nice, clean places to eat, sleep, and play. Gotta change the betta fish water again. He's eating so he's not sick, but he seems weaker. He was laying on the bottom a lot and barely changing positions, so I lowered the water level to about half and he's hovering near the top again. I don't know how much longer he's going to last, but he's over 2 years old, and bettas live about as long as hamsters (2-3 years). It's a record for me, managing to keep any fish alive this long.

Sun, Oct. 1st, 2006, 10:48 pm
NaNo again

Signed up for NaNoWriMo again. Posted a url to my quiz. Already it's off to a less-than-stellar start.

I offered to help the Munical Liaison this year. Now, in 2004, I had one who did almost nothing except act as forum moderator. No write-ins, no post-NaNo party like every other group was doing, not a thing. She did however, find some time to launch a tutoring business and try to teach herself to play the drums.

Last year, she was back, but this time was paired with a more conscientious fellow who actually did all the grunt work. She didn't even write! She brought a stack of papers and edited! Knowing there'd be no post-NaNo party if left to her, I volunteered to plan it and I did.

I also complained to the ML Coordinator (who approved her as ML), ssying the LEAST I expected an ML to do was participate, and this after I had volunteered to be an ML - twice - and was snubbed. At least I finished both times, and I followed up on what I volunteered to do!

So this year the ML (the guy) emailed, and I responded that I'd be willing to help. Then comes an email that he has a new co-ML. Well, fine, but you could've told me first. Clearly you have enough help that you don't need mine. So I bowed out.

I'm not even sure I'm going to do this for 2006. It's grueling, and I'm not sure if it'll help or hurt my current project. I don't have anything else pending right now, though, as far as fiction wriring goes. Decisions, decisions...

Sun, Oct. 1st, 2006, 04:23 pm
Apple Fest

Went to the annual apple fest. (The business district of the town sponsoring the event is mandated to look circa late-1800s and some of the buildings do date back to that era.) Bought an apple pie baked in a paper bag (supposed to be a crunchier top crust as a result), some pumpkin pancake mix, a small jar of pumpkin butter, a half-gallon of fresh apple cider, and a load of cranberry-apple bread. (Had to wait in a HUGE line for over an hour!) Lunch was a tuna salad and a hot apple sundae with pumpkin ice cream. (I know - some diet, right?)

They had a pie-eating contest that was disappointing. For one, the pies were individualy-sized, like a large tart. And for another, the contestants were the daintiest bunch of eaters I've ever seen. It's not as if one of the many, MANY people with SUV-sized baby-strollers wouldn't have a baby wipe to spare.

All in all, it was okay. Just way overcroweded. And I'm exhausted!

Sat, Sep. 30th, 2006, 10:14 pm

My web host has already moved my account to the new control panel system. After 9 hours of CSS styling and JavaScript editing/testing, I managed to get a quiz and related article on my site today. Would've gone to the Apple Festival today but it rained like crazy up there. Hoping to go tomorrow.

Fri, Sep. 29th, 2006, 10:54 pm

Not bad, overall. Okay, look, I know this isn't the compelling stuff anyone could be reading on the web. But as I said, it's mostly so that the days of no-work don't pass by unaccounted for. I don't want to be saying to myself "Gee, all that time off and what got done? Where did the time go?" It brings out that Puritan work ethic guilt that's so much a part of American culture. And really, really annoying.

So I finally bit the bullet and applied for unemployment insurance online. Hate that part, but I've received the last of my severance. I phoned the company today and there's still my unused vacation left to receive (8 days - this is why you hoard vacation days). And with nothing serious on the horizon...

I have a shot at a job downtown, but it's way downtown, as in "requires a car, a parking permit, a train, and a bus to get there." I also have a shot at 2 jobs 50 miles away. It's another company I know of and they have a good reputation as far as I know. But:
  1. They're 50 miles away.

  2. I'm told they're "picky" and their hiring process is "intense."
This last is significant. I interviewed at a company last June where even HR thought I was a shoo-in. They're STILL interviewing! The company I interviewed at last month? So are they. In fact, both are still collecting resumes! If you can't make a simple hiring decision, how do you handle major decisions on projects? If you're not prepared to make a decision, don't waste my time. It's time I could spend on a company there's serious about hiring someone and not just pretending to look busy.

On the more mundane side, I bought some groceries and other incidentals, and I got my site moved to a different server which offers more features. For example, I just finished customizing my 404-Error page so that it looks like part of my site. IPowerWeb is an awesome web host, and I've had 3.

Thu, Sep. 28th, 2006, 08:38 pm
Busy still

So let's see...what got done...

Fixed a typo and a broken link on my site. Sent out my new URL to 5 recruiters (not Miss Rude) and to all my references. Updated my URL on Monster and Dice. Waded through 2,000 job listings as a result of Dice's search engine. Found 6 potentials. Why only 6? Because they're either reeeeally far away (in towns I've barely heard of), they're in an area where I have no expertise at all (finance), or they're jobs I simply don't have the skills for - programming. (I'm an IT business analyst versus a programmer analyst.)

Looking at that, it doesn't feel as productive as I'd like, considering I've only left the house once all week so far, and that was for that voting machine training.

Well, in the evening, I did write a JavaScript quiz for NaNo and I'm working on an article to accompany it. I want to have it on my site by October 1st.

Wed, Sep. 27th, 2006, 10:24 pm
Training today

Had training today to learn how to set up the new electronic voting machines for the November mid-term elections. Personally, I think they're way easier to set up than the old-fashioned 'scanner' ballot boxes.

Having worked 2 elections, I have to say this. I am amazed at what it takes to pull off a nationwide election in this country, and all on the same day. The sheer numbers of volunteers, equipment, and forms that it takes to set up, collect votes, return equipment, and tally it all just for the county is mind-boggling. It's impressive stuff, it really is.

Tue, Sep. 26th, 2006, 11:23 pm
Site's up

Hooray! My site is finally redesigned after languishing for 2 years. (If you don't know or can't guess the URL, I'm not telling you here.)

There's plenty more to add, but it's a start!

On the down side, I found out my domain had been spoofed by a spammer. Ended up deleting TWO THOUSAND "mailer-daemon/undeliverable" emails that had bounced back - AT ME - from bad or bogus addresses. God only knows how many were sent to valid addresses. My web host managed to more or less fix it, but this is why that stupid CAN-SPAM Act is really so insidious. I have to rely on my web host or ISP to do anything about it.

Sat, Sep. 23rd, 2006, 03:15 pm

How do you tell someone (in a nice way) who used to be your friend years ago that getting even an occasional email from her is somewhere between fingernails on chalkboard and getting a needle jammed into your eye?

It brings up lots of bad memories, obliterating any good ones from when it seemed like she was my best fandom pal. I last remember her as insulting, belittling, and smug, trying to humiliate me in front of other people at a fandom get-together.

She once claimed I 'saved her life' (God, I hate myself for that), when all I did was give her some commonsense advice at a time in her life when she was ready to hear it and make major changes. (That once resulted in a private email to someone that suggested we were somehow 'more' than friends - if you know what I mean. I know that wasn't her intent, but I still had to clarify her comments for the email recipient - "NO, it's not like THAT!")

Luckily the email recipient said, "I didn't think so, because that doesn't sound like you..."

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